One in 10 American Seniors Binge Drink Alcohol

Binge Drinking is Bad for Seniors

A study published July 31, 2019 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society showed that one in 10 American Seniors Binge Drink. This binge drinking, including using cannabis puts them at risk for all kinds of health problems. The research was carried out by researchers at NYU School of Medicine and the Center for Drug Use and HIV/HCV Research (CDUHR) at NYU college of Global Public Health. The head author was Dr. Benjamin Han, who is an assistant professor in the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Palliative Care at New York University.

Binge Drinking is Risky for Seniors due To Physical Changes Caused by Aging

Binge drinking is especially risky for seniors due to physical changes caused by aging. For instance, many seniors have chronic health problems and seniors who binge drink have a higher risk for falling. Binge drinking also can interact dangerously with prescribed medical drugs, can worsen diseases and complicate managing diseases.

The Study

The researchers examined information on 10,927 American adults age 65 and older who had participated in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2015 to 2017. They used the guides from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as 5 drinks or more at the same time for men and 4 or more drinks at the same time for women. However, for seniors the NIAAA recommends lower amounts of only three drinks a day, so the prevalence of binge drinking may in fact be higher than what the researchers discovered since they did not use the guidelines for seniors of no more than three drinks at one time.


The researchers estimate that more than 1 in 10 (10.6%) seniors have done binge drinking in the past month. This was an increase compared to earlier research. For instance, from 2005-2014 binge drinking among seniors age 65 and older was between 7.7 and 9%.

Characteristics of Binge Drinkers

The binge drinkers were more likely to be male African Americans who also smoked tobacco and/or cannabis and had less than a high school education. They also were more likely to have gone to the emergency room (ER) during the past year.

Danger of Drinking Alcohol Together with Smoking Cannabis

Using alcohol together with cannabis is dangerous and many seniors are not aware of the possible risks to their health by using the two together.

Binge Drinkers had fewer chronic diseases compared to non-binge drinkers.

  1. Hypertension (high blood pressure) was the most common chronic disease among binge drinkers (41.4%).
  2. Cardiovascular disease was the second most common chronic disease (23.1%).
  3. Diabetes was the third most common chronic disease (17.7%).


The researchers stress the importance of screening, educating and intervening with seniors to prevent alcohol-related injuries and the worsening of chronic diseases. See our blog post from March 21, 2018, about the association between alcohol abuse and dementia.

Short-term Rehabilitation or Long-term Skilled Nursing Care

If you or your loved one suffer from chronic diseases and are in need of a short-term period of rehabilitation or long-term skilled nursing care, the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York has a lot to offer with expert care at the hands of a warm and caring staff.


Binge drinking is just too dangerous for seniors over age 65.

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